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Simplicity 1886 – FO 18/2013 – review and a splendid Simplicity pattern giveaway

Ye Gods!

I’m so glad to finally be able to post this review. I’ve been exceptionally tardy with it. Although we’ve had a lovely time, the summer holidays really got in the way of my creative time. On Sunday The Husband whisked the kids away to the park  and for ice cream.  He’s my hero!

Of course, I’d have been posting this much sooner if I hadn’t had that pesky ironing escapade!

Anyway…back to the patterns.  As you know I was approached by Simplicity who very kindly offered me some free patterns in exchange for me making up and reviewing them.  I was delighted to accept, but all opinions are my own.

I chose:

2406

and

1606 (1)

My third pattern is the one I’ll be reviewing first, although I will get to the other two over the coming months.

1886

As the weather is cooling down a little as we head towards autumn, I decided to shop the stash and make this up in some pretty John Kaldor print that’s been waiting far too long to make it to the sewing table.

John Kaldor floral

John Kaldor floral

Yes it’s poly, but I thought it would be a great little basic to wear with my denim skirt and a little cardigan for slightly cooler days.

I chose this pattern as I’ve been looking for a replacement for Sorbetto.  I love Colette’s aesthetic but really had trouble getting the darts right because of the FBA I needed.  I’m still a bit hit and miss with FBA’s.  I’ll crack them eventually.

With that in mind, this pattern seemed a great option as it’s already drafted for different cup sizes…although I’m a DD/E dependent on who you speak to, so even with the extra cup size options, I knew I’d have some finangling of the fit to do.

So…how did I get on?

It’s a mix of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly!

The Good

Well, despite the discrepancy between my bosom and that of the pattern, it took me a surprisingly small amount of time and effort to to fit this top.

I cut the pattern in the D cup option in the size that fits my high bust measurement at the shoulders and armholes.  I cut the side seams at the next size up.

This is the muslin straight off the pattern:

03 08 13_edited-1-1_edited-1

I was really surprised that this worked.  Yes, I still had gapping at the armhole and front and back necks…but I always have that gapping.  It’s down to the shape I am.

You can see that I’ve already pinned out a dart on one of the armholes.  I just replicated that at the front neck and back neck, transferred those darts to the pattern and cut out the fashion fabric.

Voila!

Alterations made and transferred to the pattern within about half an hour. Which is without doubt the quickest turnaround of a muslin in my whole sewing career! It was so easy and I am a very happy camper!

The multi cup size pattern options really do work.

So I was ready to sew, which is when we came to…

The Bad

Perhaps calling them ‘Bad’ is a little harsh.  Perhaps ‘Pesky’ would be a better word.  Or just a little bit ‘Naughty’.

Semantics aside, the first hiccup came when I was making the ruffle for the front. Let’s just say the instructions for inserting the ruffles are less than clear.

IMG_8947_edited-2

The neck band was a complete and total bear.  I’ve lost count of how many times I unpicked the wretched thing.

However, I think it’s most likely that the problems I encountered were created by the fabric being very slippery and fidgety.  Because it was very slippery and fidgety indeed.  But! I suspect that it would have been easier to draft a simple stand collar than the band and facings used here.  It was all a little bit fussy to apply and turned the air in the sewing loft blue on more than one occasion.

Despite it being a slippery customer, once done, it looks really cute, and if I did it again it would be a whole lot easier.  That said, I’m grateful for the printed fabric. It hides a multiple of sins! 😉

The Ugly

This is where I’m going to take the opportunity to speak to Simplicity (and the other major pattern houses, to be fair.  They’re just as bad) about the styling of their pattern envelopes.

People…you really need to up your game on the envelope styling!

You don’t make it at all easy for us to choose your patterns.  I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen a really cute dress/top/trousers/whatever on a blog only to realise that it’s a pattern that I’d previously totally discounted due to the styling on the envelope.

I can understand that back in the day, before the independent pattern companies flourished, that you could get away with it.  But now…not so much. The Cynthia Rowley envelope isn’t all bad but 1606 and 1886…I feel that they really need some work.

I recognise that the big 4 are aiming at a much wider audience than the indie companies, but I’m not sure that’s a strong enough argument.  How hard can it be to pitch at multiple markets with the same envelope? Especially as most of the design is sketched. Even Knip Mode magazine, which isn’t always the most fashion forward of the sewing mags, manages to do this on a regular basis.

Yep...same pattern...different fabric and styling! Although the camel ones could do with a better fit...more whiskers that O'Malley the Alley Cat!

Yep…same pattern…different fabric and styling!
Although the camel ones could do with a better fit…more whiskers that O’Malley the Alley Cat!

As the sewing market grows, both in the number of customers (due to the resurgence of interest in the craft), and of the range of patterns available (because of the growth of independent houses), I feel that the Big 4 are missing a real opportunity to reach out to sewists and provide them with a well drafted product in a packaging that appeals to a wide range of tastes and styles.

Conclusion

I hope you don’t think this is a negative review because, despite the niggles I had with the neckline on this top, I’m really, really pleased with the result and feel that it really fills a gap in my wardrobe. I know it’s going to get quite a bit of wear over the next few months.  It goes with my denim skirt and a pair of cropped RTW trousers.

IMG_8961_edited-2

Please ignore the creases…this was the end of a very busy day of last minute school uniform shopping!

I also think the ruffle, which I’d normally avoid, works very well and is surprisingly flattering thanks to the lovely drape of the fabric.

For me, this pattern works in a way that I couldn’t get Sorbetto to.  The darts are great and as a result it’s not too boxy.  Lord knows, I need no help in looking boxy!

IMG_8950_edited-2

Happy dart and a lovely snug armhole.
Ignore the wrinkles…they’re just there because I’m pulling my arm back to show the dart.

I can see myself playing with the neckline and hemline to make variations so that I can get some much needed quick and easy tops into my wardrobe. Although, rest assured, next time I’ll be binding the neck and armholes and not faffing with the wretched neckline and facing pieces given in the pattern.

And the scorch…

IMG_8953_edited-1

I just slapped a teeny tiny patch on it…and a matching one on the other side seam. I promise they are much less obtrusive and inelegant in real life. You can hardly see them. And they mean I can happily wear this top.  As most of the time I’ll be wearing this with a cardigan, this is a solution I can easily live with.

But most of all I am totally sold on the idea of multiple bust size options, and salute Simplicity for introducing them.  Being able to remove/reduce the FBA/SBA makes fitting so much faster and easier. I think we’ll all agree that this is a Very Good Thing.  For sure, I’ve never fitted a pattern so quickly and with such a good result.

I can only encourage more/all pattern companies to embrace this feature going forwards.  It’s a feature that will definitely influence my pattern purchasing decisions in the future.  I suspect I’m not alone in this view.

So I’m patting myself on the back for selecting this pattern, and am patting Simplicity on the back for giving me the opportunity to try it.  I’m also looking forward to making up the other two patterns and am hopeful for an equally happy outcome.

But now, if you not asleep at this point, here’s the bit of this post you’ve really been waiting for. It’s time for you to get your hands on a Simplicity pattern of your own!

Actually, it’s time for 3 (yep…three) of you to get a Simplicity pattern of your choice!

Here’s how you can win:

  1. Go to www.simplicitynewlook.com and choose which pattern you’d like to add to your collection.
  2. Leave a comment below telling me which pattern you’ve chosen.
  3. For an extra chance to win, just follow Simplicity on Twitter – @SewSimplicity – and leave me another comment to confirm you’ve done so.
  4. Get a third chance to win by posting this giveaway on your blog and pop a link to the post in your comment.

Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy!

I’ll close this giveaway on Friday 6th September at midnight GMT and choose 3 lucky winners to receive the pattern of their choice.

This giveaway is open to international readers as well as those in the UK.

Good luck!


Simplicity 1886…almost

The Simplicity top is finished and the review is written.  I just needed pictures to add to the post and I was good to go.

Today we have had glorious sunshine which seemed to present a perfect opportunity to test drive my lovely new top at a local food festival.

IMG_8936_edited-1Or not!

Blasted iron was too hot (obviously nothing to do with me having it on the wrong setting)!

My immediate reaction was “thank goodness I have enough of this fabric to make another”.

Well, actually, that was my second reaction.  My first involved my expletives of choice.

Then I realised that a strategically placed design feature could probably save this top…and several hours work for me too!  So I’ve got it all pinned and ready to sew and will get back to you soon with the finished article.


Simplicity giveaway…the winners

I’m really thrilled with the response to my review and giveaway on Simplicity 1886.

I’ve been wearing that top to death, and can only recommend it even more after having done so.  I LOVE it!

But enough about me…you’re here to find out who one the Simplicity pattern of their choice.

Drumroll please

The winners are:

Jackien

Sewing Princess

Scruffy Badger

Congratulations ladies.  I can’t wait to see your creations.

Could you email me your address details and I’ll arrange for Simplicity to send the patterns directly to you.


She had so much fabric she didn’t know what to do

I’m sure you’ll remember this recent post when I happily declared that I had worked through my stash, sorted and catalogued all the fabric, and was set and ready to sew.

And then I made blinds.

And looked at the crates.

And I sewed nothing.

And I looked at the crates some more.

And I flicked through the patterns.

And I flicked through the fabric catalogue.

And I sewed nothing.

Because, when you’ve got 176 metres of fabric in the stash, (I know!!!), and you haven’t really sewn properly for a couple of years, there’s a question that your poor, overwhelmed brain keeps coming back to.

“Where the heck do you start?”

I have a huge pile of fabric, and enough patterns to last me till doomsday.  But I simply couldn’t decide what to make.

Should I make this pattern in that fabric?  Or would the other one be more appropriate? What about this one?

Completely stuck!  Completely frustrated! And still not sewing.

A couple of weeks back I decided that I would start with jeans.  The rationale being that I really need some more jeans in my wardrobe.  And my favourite sort-of jeans, RTW, but made from a soft stretch chino, had finally given up their last fibre.

Also…I wear jeans pretty much every day.

Oh…and I already had the pattern printed off and ready to tape.  Perfect.

So I taped up the pattern. Got to love a big sewing table!

Then packed it away.

Turns out, I’m not quite ready to go from zero to jeans fitting.

So….I sewed nothing.

And then, I opened my wardrobe and realised that I’ve hit that point where everything is running close to shabby and I need some new tops. (I’ve still got a couple of pairs of jeans that have only just come back into rotation after losing a bit of weight. The jeans weren’t a priority after all!)

I was just about to suggest a shopping trip to the Hubby, when I realised that, quelle suprise, I do know where to start.

So, on Saturday, whilst he cleared the last of the boxes and assorted crap from the garage, I pulled out a length of fabric that I’d already earmarked for toiles, and a couple of patterns that I’d already made up before.

First up, Simplicity 1886, which I’d previously made up in a pretty floral poly and worn to shreds.

OMG…throwback to dark hair! I look soooooo young!

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll already know that I’m really glad I made that toile!

The fit was so very far off that I binned the toile, and the pattern.  I’d already hacked it to death and, quite frankly, would much rather start again from fresh.

I’ll admit to being quite shocked by this as, if you’d asked me, I would have told you that it would be too small!

I quickly moved on to Newlook 6217, which I’d made up, loved, and worn to shreds before blogging it.  This is one of the patterns that I’d like to be a TNT that I can pull out, pop on the fabric, and whizz up whenever the mood takes me.

It’s the kind of easy-to-wear top I love for day-to-day wear when you’ve got to get yourself together quickly in the morning, but don’t want to look like a complete schlep!

I knew there were some tweaks needed to the pattern, so did a quick toile, clarified the tweaks, and applied them to the pattern.

I’m pretty sure it’s good to go, but I’ll make up in some cheap fabric just to confirm. I’ve then got at least 2 or 3 other lengths of fabric that I can quickly whizz up and get out of the stash and into the wardrobe.  Whereupon I can recycle the tatty RTW.

And I’ll have my first ever TNT!

Once that’s done I can move onto the next pattern I want to sew.  Which will either be the Ginger Jeans or the Sew Me Something Imogen top.

image copyright: sewmesomthing.co.uk

Cue, the next of the TNTs.

The moral of this story?  Turns out there’s a couple.

First up, when your sewing room is in boxes and you don’t know how long it will be before it’s unpacked…..stop buying fabric.

When you’re so busy that you’re not sewing….stop buying fabric.

And when you’re so stuck you don’t know where to start….Stop. Buying. Fabric!*

Oh…and Just. Start. Somewhere. It doesn’t matter if its the perfect fabric/pattern combo. Or if there are 73 other patterns that a given piece of fabric can be used for.

Just.  Sew.  Something.

“Done” is better than “Perfect!”

*Obviously, if your lovely friend texts  to say that she’s popping round at some point in the week with a gift of free fabric, that absolutely, positively doesn’t count. 

Just make sure it’s stuff you love, or let it go to another good home!


Minty fresh tank top

When I first met The Husband I was living in Surrey and working in London. At the weekends (or during the week if he could swing a meeting locally) he would drive the 280-ish miles to visit (and the same home again on a Sunday night).

On the Saturday we’d do fun things…oftentimes involving taking the 25 minute train journey into London and ‘doing’ a museum or some shopping, or a long and boozy lunch.

Berwick street

And, now and again, quelle surprise, we’d find ourselves on Berwick Street and he would happily traipse in and out of fabric shops and treat me to a metre or many of lovely fabric.

One such purchase was some incredibly soft and drapey pale spearmint coloured linen.  It’s buttery texture is divine and it’s just opaque enough to maintain your modesty whilst you stay cool.  It was £20 a metre 8 years ago.  Not cheap.

And it’s sat in my stash for 8 years because I couldn’t decide what to sew with it.

Which is, quite frankly, a crazy waste of beautiful fabric.

With the new found (Wardrobe Architect motivated) spirit of sewing up or shipping out my stash fabric, it was time to bit the bullet on this an actually make something from this lovely linen, and I wanted something that I would get a great deal of wear out of over the summer months.  A dress would be lovely, but wouldn’t get the wear, so I decided on a simple tank top.

I knew I wanted a breezy and long line silhouette, a curvy hemline and some tiny tucks across the front, but couldn’t find a pattern that cut the mustard.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been banging on about making my own patterns, so, I did.

1886

I used Simplicity 1886 as a block, traced a copy so I could scribble, cut and tape to my hearts content, and in very little time, had a pattern that I absolutely love.

green linen top 1

I made the following alterations:

:: added 1/2″ to each side seam allowance to give me a loose silhouette

:: dropped the neckline by about 1″ (ish) and scooped the neckline front and back to make it wider

:: added 2″ to the front of the blouse and 3″ to the back

:: shaped the sides to give a shirt tail effect

green linen shirt tails

:: replaced the neckline facing with a self made bias binding facing

green linen bias bound neckline

:: armholes also have a bias bound facing

:: added 6 x 1/4″ pintucks to the front of the bodice

green linen pintucks

It sounds like a lot when you write it down, but it didn’t take very long at all to do, and now I have a top that as soon as I’ve worn it, goes into the wash so I can wear it again as soon as possible.

green linen top

I adore this top and only want to make a couple of teeny tiny changes for the next one.

:: raise the front neckline by about 1/2″.  Because the top is so breezy, the neckline can be a bit precarious when I lean forwards…not cool at the school gate!

:: the darts are a bit hinky.  The fabric hides a multitude of sins, but I need to bring the bust point back a little, possibly only 1/4″, just to avoid them hitting at the wrong point and ending up, well, pointy!

:: The side seams sit slightly towards the back of centre…again you can’t really see it but I’m aware of it.  Moving them forwards just 1/2″ will solve that problem.

Very minor changes that will make the next top pretty much perfect.  Now I just need to decide what I’ll put in place of the pintucks for a different look! 😉

PS…yes…those are my red Lotta’s.  They get as much, if not more, wear than this top.

PPS…and yes, my blue one’s are here too.  😀


3 simple ways to blow your sewing budget

Life chez Stitches hasn’t reached the point of routine yet.  Between odd school hours and trying to catch up on six weeks of abandoning the house in favour of family time, I’ve been so busy and tired I have hardly knit a stitch this week, let alone do any sewing.

I have however had time sitting around waiting for kids when I’ve been able to browse the interwebs and have found some new lovelies that I thought I’d share.

First up is a new indie pattern company, Named,

a Finnish clothing pattern label founded by sisters Saara and Laura Huhta…Named garments are a combination of Scandinavian clean-lined simplicity and interesting details. The aim of the collections is to bring a new perspective to making one’s own clothes and to support ethical and ecological consuming in contrast to a clothing industry focused on fast fashion.

The clothes are really cool…crisp, clean, modern lines.  Although I’m not sewing much for myself at the moment whilst the CrossFit does it’s work, I do have some Named patterns in my crosshairs:

Just click on any image for a bigger picture.

Named has also put out a full Fall/Winter collection of patterns which is a great idea, I think.  It’s a cohesive collection too. I’m happy that there is a slightly edgier pattern company out there.  I love retro styling, but I’d also like some more modern pieces in my wardrobe too, something that has been lacking for home sewists.

Saying that I like retro styling, thanks to the gorgeous Roisin (who got engaged to her handsome man last week…congratulations!) I’ve discovered another new pattern line, Pauline Alice.  Her first pattern, a vintagey shirt dress, is gorgeous.

Cami dress

Cami dress

Roisin has made a really cute version (you’d expect nothing less):

Picture shameless pilfered from Dolly Clacket

Picture shameless pilfered from Dolly Clacket

I am all over shirtdresses at the moment. This one’s on my list too!

It’s fabulous that the indie pattern scene is so healthy.  Not only does it give designers, who are usually women, an opportunity to express their creativity and support themselves outside of the normal corporate template, but it gives home sewists an every growing and increasingly diverse range of styles to choose from.  It’s just a “win-win” for everyone.  Long may it continue.

Up till now, however, this opportunity has really been limited to pattern designers, but at last, we have an indie fabric designer too…20th Century Cloth:

the home of new retro inspired fabrics…designed in London and printed in the UK

20thcc_homemaster

At £14 per half metre these are not cheap…but you are paying for the craftsmanship that goes into these amazing designs and, I’m hoping, a good quality fabric.  Although, really, you need a couple of metres for a dress, plus notions, so you’re still a damn site cheaper than some nasty High Street tat that’s made in a sweat shop in Bangladesh.

To be fair, though, you won’t need need to justify a purchase…just look at these gorgeous fabrics:

konabambusa_crimp-400x400I would so love this as a wiggle dress for Christmas parties (I know, I said the C word, but I did buy my first C present this week…).

modestonoir_crimp-400x400And I know I swore off black, but really, I think I could make a happy exception for this.

And whilst we’re heading into autumn here in the UK, this print is perfect for you southern hemisphere gals, just heading into spring.

delano_crimp-400x400Swoon.

Now that I’ve encouraged you to bust the sewing budget this month, don’t forget that my lovely Simplicity giveaway closes tonight.  Free patterns…woot.

I’ve got a crazy busy weekend (lots of activities with kids and dog, I need to clear the sewing room ready for my next project…box cushions for Lara Croft’s ma…and the pattern to set on the front of Aislinn). So if I don’t get to pick the winners until Monday, please don’t worry…I won’t forget.

Hope you have a fabulous weekend too.


Vintage by the sea

I’m always amazed that someone other than my family reads this blog.

I was thrilled when Simplicity contacted me to do the review (there’s still time to enter the giveaway, don’t forget) and last week I was delighted to receive an email telling me about an event happening on the 14th September.

The Vintage Festival takes a one day trip to Morecambe to help celebrate the 80th Anniversary of the iconic art deco hotel , The Midland.

If you’re not familiar with The Midland

sepia-midland

it’s a beautiful Art Deco hotel on the North West coast, which has recently been restored and in it’s heyday was

a favourite haunt of celebrities such as Coco Chanel, Sir Laurence Olivier and Noel Coward, along with many of the actors and musicians performing at The Winter Gardens. Today it stands restored to the glory as the jewel in the crown of the British coast.

It’s the kind of place you expect to bump into Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings.

poirot

Personally, I’m thrilled that Wayne Hemingway has decided to hold this festival. Morecambe is a typically English seaside resort that has faded over the years. Events of this type help to bring a new lease of live to the area, and to put Morecambe back on the map.

The Festival sounds like it’s going to be a great day out – shopping, vintage hair and make-up , creative workshops, a food market and beautiful classic cars.

The fair is on from 11 – 6pm and entry to the main event is free, although you can also stay for a vintage dinner in The Rotunda!  Oh my, the glamour.

I’m really grateful to Rachel for bringing this event to my attention.  I’m surely going to do my best to get there…I’ve always wanted to visit The Midland and this is my kind of day out!